Higher Ed Funding, Paul Fulton, and The Cooper Commission

Paul Fulton

Huge congratulations to Coalition for Carolina advisor Paul Fulton! 

Paul, former dean of the Kenan Flagler business school and NC business executive, is a tireless advocate for North Carolina public education.  He was recently honored by theNorth Carolina Society of New York at its annual Dinner Dance.

Since 1947, the Society has recognized 79 honorees, including John Motley Morehead III, John M. Belk, Dean E. Smith, Richard Hampton Jenrette, Julian and Josie Robertson, Gov. James Baxter Hunt, Jr., Dr. James and Ann Goodnight, and Thomas W. Ross.

Below is a video of Paul’s remarks.  This video was submitted by an attendee at the event. If it is difficult to hear what Paul is saying, please follow this link to read Paul’s full remarks.

Funding Higher Education

The funding of public higher education is facing challenges around the country.  In a recent post, we celebrated Carolina’s milestone achievement in raising private funds to support the university and noted that such “once in a generation” funding is no substitute for state funding. This thinking is underscored in a Chronicle for Higher Education opinion piece written by James Nguyen H. Spencer. He considers the importance of funding and investing in our youth and discusses the importance of public higher education as a public good.  Spencer goes on to

 point out how public higher education is facing funding challenges across the country and proposes a novel solution that would enable us to invest in our young people’s education, address current funding challenges, and realize a favorable return on the investment.

From the article:

 “In years past, public-college tuition was kept very low by state investment in public universities. But today, levels of investment have in many cases dropped from about half of a university’s budget to less than 10 percent. In some states, these aggregate reductions have been mitigated by the creation of state programs funding individual tuition support for residents, as in South Carolina and Louisiana, yet it’s still clear that states will no longer be the primary source of public-university support.

Financing an equitable higher education can be done: The U.S. has near-universal water supplies, transportation, and electricity for even its poorest residents. What would happen if we applied the same principles to the public goods that universities provide?

This could be done with the financial support of state-supported bond programs — or less preferably through the private capital markets (after all, student debt is a $1.5-trillion market), like most conventional forms of infrastructure. Upon graduation, a graduate would be asked to pay a small percentage of income back to the university for the duration of the graduate’s career — let’s say 3 percent to 5 percent. The graduates who become millionaires will financially outweigh those who drop out of the labor market. This mechanism should ensure that the monthly costs aren’t too burdensome.

The economic fundamentals of “investing” in our young people in this way are solid.”

Read more here: https://www.chronicle.com/article/higher-ed-is-a-public-good-lets-fund-it-like-one

Support for The Governance Commission

The Winston-Salem Journal has published an opinion piece in support of Governor Cooper’s commission on university governance.  They view the new commission as “a necessary first step to protect taxpayers’ investment in our university system and to right a ship that has listed starboard. We’ll watch for their recommendations with interest — and with hope that the legislature will be persuaded to take their recommendations seriously.”  

In supporting the commission, the Journal highlights some of the problems that have arisen as a result of one political party having “a lock on the UNC System”. They cite incidences where lawmakers used their power “at times to turn students into political pawns, as in the era of the HB2 ‘bathroom bill,’ when they tried to impose harmful limitations on where some UNC students could relieve themselves. Questions have also arisen over Republican-appointed board members who have improperly tried to influence university hiring and contract decisions, as well as, in one case, a student election. A couple of board members sought university chancellorships for themselves.”

The piece includes quotes from Governor Cooper and co-chair Margaret Spellings.

  Follow this link to read more of the Winston-Salem Journal’s point of view on the new commission.

You Can Change How Carolina Is Governed

In case you missed all of the campaign signs and political commercials, here is yet another reminder that an election is just around the corner. 

Voting in the 2022 mid-terms starts on Thursday October 20, 2022 with One-Stop Early Voting. If you are concerned about politicization and governance overreach hurting our beloved Carolina, then we urge you to research the candidates to gain a clear understanding of their positions on public education and university governance before you vote.  Doing so holds such high importance because those who are elected to the General Assembly determine how Carolina and the UNC System are governed.

In January of 2022 The Daily Tarheel published an editorial entitled “Breaking down the Board of GovernorsHere is a brief excerpt from that piece:

“The Board of Governors has 24 voting members that serve terms of four years. Members are elected by the Senate and House of Representatives of the North Carolina General Assembly.

The Board of Governors appoints the majority of trustees on boards at Chapel Hill and 15 other state universities. The BOT has the final say on faculty tenure and advises chancellors on the management of their campuses. 

The North Carolina legislature also appoints select trustees.”

So, we urge you to take some time to get an understanding how the persons you wish to vote for view public education and Carolina governance and then make your study the foundation of your plan to vote.  If your mailbox and social media timelines are  full of partisan pitches, you may want to start your research with the overview that nonpartisan, nonprofit Ballotpedia has published for some of the 2022 North Carolina races:

OfficeElections?More information
U.S. SenateClick here
U.S. HouseClick here
State SenateClick here
State HouseClick here
State Supreme CourtClick here
Intermediate appellate courtsClick here
School boardsClick here
Municipal governmentClick here
Local ballot measuresClick here

See you at the polls!

Other News:

“Higher Ed is on the Ballot”.  That is the title of a new special report from the Chronicle of Higher Education.  They specifically mention Carolina in their introduction which begins…

“The midterm elections are fast approaching, and higher education is on the ballot. According to the memoirist turned ultra-conservative political hopeful J.D. Vance, “The professors are the enemy” — an attitude whose legislative corollaries include a widespread focus on the teaching of “critical race theory” in college classrooms and high-profile political disputes over controversies like the University of North Carolina’s attempt to hire Nikole Hannah-Jones. Meanwhile, President Biden’s debt-cancellation plan faces Republican pushback and is likely to meet legal challenges. Two landmark anti-affirmative-action cases await their day at the Supreme Court.”

Click here to check out this midterm election special report.

Carolina – #5 In the Country

The US News and World Report 2022–2023 Rankings are out and once again our beloved Carolina ranks #5 in the country for best public university in a tie with University of Florida. Peer public university UVA rose to the No. 3 spot to tie Michigan after three consecutive years at #4. UCLA and UC Berkeley maintained their rank in the top two spots.

Nationally, Carolina ranks #29 out of 443 universities in a three-way tie with Wake Forest and Florida. This is a slip for all three from a rank of #28 in 2021-2022. Part of this slip might be attributable to a methodology change that US News and World Report made in 2020 and 2021. The new methodology “reduced the weight of SAT/ACT standardized tests to 5% (7.75% previously) and reduced the weight of high school class standing to 2% (2.25% previously) toward schools’ overall scores. The weight of alumni giving was reduced to 3% (5% previously) toward each school’s overall rank.” Additional changes included adding additional measures for graduate indebtedness as well as an increase in the weight for overall outcomes.

Below is a chart depicting how Carolina and the three schools it tied with nationally have fared between 2015 and 2022. Taking into account the latest 2022-2023 ranking of 29, since 2015, Carolina has moved up one spot, Wake Forest has fallen 2 spots and Florida has climbed 21 spots.
Here is how Carolina fared in additional rankings with nursing and business programs ranked among the top 10 in the country.#5 in Top Public Schools (tie)#5 in Nursing (tie)#8 in Management (tie)#8 in Business Programs (tie)AccountingAnalytics#9 in MarketingProduction / Operation Management#10 in Real Estate#10 in Entrepreneurship#11 in FinanceComputer Science#12 in Best Colleges for Veterans (tie)#15 in Best Value Schools#19 in Service Learning (tie)#24 in Study Abroad#29 in National Universities (tie)#61 in Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs (tie)At schools whose highest degree is a doctorate#66 in Best Undergraduate Teaching (tie)#160 in Top Performers on Social Mobility (tie)
Other News:
In a surprising announcement, Kenan-Flagler Business School dean Doug Shackleford announced his resignations.

In a video message to faculty and staff, Shackleford reportedly said; “Serving as dean has been the greatest honor of my life,” …. “This decision has not been easy and I know it will be surprising to many of you. In brief, I’m very tired. I’m not physically ill and I’m sure I’ll be fine with some rest. But I need to hand the baton to another who can run at the pace this school deserves. Please know that this school is far bigger than any single person and it will continue to thrive….”

“In an interview with Poets&Quants, Shackelford says he had been actively considering leaving the job before his vacation but as the phone calls, emails and text messages piled up while he was trying to get away, he made the final decision to call it quits.” Read more about how and why Doug Shackleford announced his resignation in the Poets&Quants article.

Eric Johnson: #CarolinaLove

What do you value/love about Carolina?

My love for Carolina is in the same category as my love for America: a set of impossibly idealistic aspirations, rarely achieved but always worth striving toward. I think it’s an absolute miracle that a deeply impoverished southern state built this place, sustained it for two centuries, and continues to support it today. It’s miraculous that any society has managed to build and celebrate institutions purpose-built to question orthodoxy and encourage free thinking. “There is a vast educational culture in this country, unlike anything else in the world,” writes Marilynne Robinson. “It emerged from a glorious sense of the possible and explored and enhanced the possible through the spread of learning.”

What do you value/love that?

That’s what I feel when I walk across campus at Carolina — a glorious sense of the possible. Public universities, Robinson says, ”are a tribute and an invitation to the young, who can and should make the world new, out of the unmapped and unbounded resource of their minds.” That invitation is still very much open, and not just to the young.

What Does It Mean to Love Carolina?

By Mimi Chapman

“He loves Carolina.”  “She really loves Carolina.” “Of course, they love Carolina.” Referencing generous alums, trusted advisors, sports coaches, legislators, recent graduates, trustees’ past and present, the “loving Carolina” moniker is applied to so many. Everyone it seems “loves Carolina.”  I don’t doubt it, but such catch phrases are often a kind of code. At this moment in the University’s history when there is so much right, so much still to do, within a governance structure that is fraught, “loving Carolina” is a code worth dissecting.

Having moved across the country years ago, I am not deeply connected to my Texas undergraduate campus. But if someone were to ask me if I loved the place, if I had a meaningful psychological connection to it, I would probably say yes.  I had professors that challenged me, read transformational books, and had important experiences that set me on my professional path. What’s more, I love who I was during my college days enthusiastic and curious about most everything, football games and formals, plays and poetry, studying abroad, new techniques in the darkroom, and chasing the moon down rural country lanes with the top down. That place gave me those memories and so I love it. But I know next to nothing about the day-to-day reality of that campus now, what it takes to run it, what the tensions are among students, faculty, and the administration.  My love is based solely in memory. 

That is not to say all Carolina alums “love Carolina” because of their memories. Some can see their time in Chapel Hill as part of a long-running river that changes the landscape and is changed by that landscape in return. Others devote time and treasure to the place in hopes that they can preserve or return the campus to some former version of itself.  Others “love Carolina” because it is struggling with hard historical questions and working to live up to ideals of equity and inclusion. Some “love Carolina” for more specific reasons. UNC Health Care saved life or limb. A campus discovery or innovation added value to their business. Maybe their community was helped by the incredible state-wide work in which many of our schools engage. Perhaps they’ve become used to having their favorite artists – Martha Graham, Alvin Ailey, Joshua Bell, or Yo Yo Ma – routinely show up at Carolina Performing Arts. Faculty love Carolina’s “low stone walls” culture that leads to robust cross disciplinarity, committed students, prize winning colleagues.  In some ways, we all love Carolina, but, perhaps we love different Carolinas and not all loves have room for everything that happens on our campus.  

When I go beyond the “loving Carolina” code, I believe that I am being told to trust people who “love Carolina” without question. “Loving Carolina” protects people from critique whether their decision-making is transparent or opaque, deceptive, or straight-forward, wise or misguided. But in a culture of diverse interests and conflicting values, trust based on handshakes and coded language is failing. It’s time to look under the hood.  A love for a winning sports team may be rooted in values like loyalty and submitting one’s desires for the good of the team. A love for a faculty fellowship program may be more about scholarship that thrives through autonomy and solitude. Gratitude, second chances, repaying a priceless debt characterizes a Carolina love rooted in care at UNC Hospitals. Some students love the Carolina of the blue cup and others love the fight for justice. There are Carolina parents who are astounded by the opportunities that come to their children who choose this campus. Some, like me, love all of it and others only part.

This Valentine’s day it’s time to go beyond the platitudes and the coded language. Let’s show that we love Carolina by being honest with ourselves and others about what we value about this place. And let’s talk about it. Such a dialogue could provide an opportunity to bring our governing boards, faculty, staff, students, and administration into more productive dialogue and alignment.